As a student of math and economics at Emory University in the United States, Srishti Jindal prepared for life as a banker. Then came a summer internship that totally changed her course!
Srishti’s innate passion and talent for writing had earned her the post of editor on her school magazine. She also wrote regularly for her college magazine and ended up joining a travel magazine that suffered losses in 2012.
Srishti Jindal, founder of Swift Media International
In two years, Srishti had not only learned the ropes of the media business, but also anticipated the scope of the magazine to cater to travel lovers on a larger scale. With loans from her parents and her educational background in math and economics finally starting, she bought the magazine’s legal licenses and brands and founded Swift Media International.
“I was confident of getting my investment back and knew I had a good deal ahead of me,” she says.
Four years after purchasing the platform in 2014, Srishti had not only repaid the loans but turned it into a profitable company with sales of Rs 75 billion in fiscal year 2018-2019. Despite coming from a business family, Srishti has demonstrated her skills as an entrepreneur and received the APJ Abdul Kalam Award for Innovation in 2017.
Travel through the travel industry
According to Srishti, buying the existing platform was more than ideal as it would have taken a long time to set it up again, obtaining publishing licenses, registering companies, and other legal requirements.
Instead, she got to work tweaking the design and tone of the magazine to suit the tastes and preferences of the millennial population. As a storyteller, she says that content and data are the two most valuable things.
“When you package data and really have a unique point of view, you can create relatable content that people want to hear, and that’s very powerful. There is so much data out there, but if you just figure out your niche well, the possibilities are endless, ”she says.
With a successful business thanks to her, there are also a number of challenges. She says people didn’t take her seriously at the beginning when she introduced herself as a founder with little work experience.
“The tourism industry has a lot of women, but even then there were glass ceilings that I could feel. First of all, I am a woman and a young woman. I had to be more careful and put in extra effort that wouldn’t have been necessary if I had been older or a man, ”she shares.
Regarding competition in the market, she says: “I would like to see someone like Conde Nast as competition, even though he is way ahead of me. But I hope that one day I can be there. “
As business stabilized, Srishti launched The Terrane, a platform for creative work and artist discovery. Despite being a global platform, it hopes to spotlight unique Indian artworks from nooks and crannies of India that cannot be found in the mainstream.
Srishti says it is a pure passion project and does not plan to commercialize it. Starting with Rs 5 lakh, she hopes to build a community to sell her work and eventually offer scholarships and housing opportunities to promising candidates.
Turn the lock over
When spending became tight during the lockdown, Srishti said she had to make hard calls to let employees go and cut wages.
She also noted that artists and the creative industries were the first to suffer. “When discussing the economy and the bigger scheme of things, art and artists are the last things people think of, and COVID-19 has taken a sharp turn,” she explains.
Srishti and her father Rajji Rai devoted their time helping migrant workers stranded during the nationwide lockdown. From March to early June, the duo fed nearly thousands of people every day with the help of volunteers in the slum areas of Delhi.
As the wife and mother of a then seven-month-old daughter, Srishti’s concern was the welfare of women and expectant mothers “because they are always the worst affected”. The entrepreneur prioritized vitamins, medications, and necessities like sanitary towels for women during the crisis.
Be a working mom
In the vernacular, entrepreneurship means dedicating oneself to one’s own company around the clock. Becoming a new mom while running a growing business was tough to say the least.
“It was very heavy and there is no sugar coating. People say you can have anything, but it’s just not easy. Every minute I spend on work is missed with my baby. There is so much guilt about abandoning your child, but I do my best to juggle both of them, ”she says.
To ensure that working women and mothers have a level playing field, Srishti suggests setting a clearly defined KPI with flexible hours and making decisions about promotion and other options based on their earnings. Change starts at home, and as an entrepreneur, Srishti has made sure she follows these principles for her female employees.